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The amazing Selway River in Idaho
The Selway-Bitterrot Wilderness is truly a gem of Wild Country preserved by the 1964 Wilderness Act.
Jagged peaks shelter the beautiful old-growth cedar trees that tower over the clear braided streams that flow into the Selway River.
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Rivers of the World!
Geography Page
The Selway River
Selway Flow
the National Weather Service River Forecast Center

Selway@Lowell vs. Paradise Gage Comparison
Rapids of the Selway
Selway Bitterroot Wilderness Map
Idaho Rivers
River Finder
Four Rivers Lottery
West Fork Ranger Station
regional map
selway trip map
Nez Perce National Forest
trip logistics
see info about the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area
Selway River Beta: 
Grade:  Class IV ( Class V in flood stage)
Gradient:  averages 28 feet/mile
Length: 47 miles of mind-blowing wilderness
Put-in: Paradise Launch Site - 3,050' elevation
Take-out: Race Creek Campground - 1,725' elevation
Selway River Flowcall Idaho DWR River Flow: 208-327-7865
or visit:  the Idaho Department of Water Resources

Recommended Run Levels:
800 ~ 3,000 cfs at Paradise Launch site

Peak Recorded Flow:
May 29, 1948 - 48,900 cfs at Lowell

Flows at Takeout

Nestled within the 1,239,840 acre Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area of North-Central Idaho near the Montana border lies the amazing Selway River.

The Selway River begins in a steep and heavily forested canyon, and the canyon opens up within a few miles on river.  
This free-flowing river is in a geographically compact drainage basin, so river flows vary widely in range.

Expect clear and cold water, pristine conditions and numerous side creeks entering the river.

There are an estimated 76 named creeks pouring into the Selway river in this 47 mile stretch of the Selway.

The Selway River is a designated "Wild River", as designated by the Wilderness Preservation and the Wild and Scenic River system.
The Selway region is known for its extraordinary scenery, exceptional water quality and excellent wildlife viewing opporitunity.

The Selway River provides habitat to the native Westslope Cutthroat Trout and to an abundant wildlife population;  Yes, we are all visitors in the forest and to the river, the home to our animal brothers.
We respect wilderness and all living things.
All living things are sacred and to be respected.


Congress designated the Selway River as an outstanding national resource under the Wild and Scenic River Act in 1968. Wilderness designation took years and years of fighting for to obtain.

Rarely will you encounter other boaters since only ONE group is allowed to launch per day on the Selway.

This fact, makes the Selway Idaho's most private Wild and Scenic river.

Private permits are hard to draw for the Selway, most commercial trips book out 10 months in advance.
For your permit, contact :
West Fork Ranger Station, Bitterroot National Forest, Darby, Montana 59829 
or call 406-821-3269 for more info.

The river ranger for the Selway River is Barry Williams, he's been there for 20 years. Big RESPECT to Barry.

Permits and Forest Info

Sections of the Selway:

Selway River above Selway Falls:
Permit required - contact the West Fork Ranger District, Bitterroot National Forest.

Selway River below Selway Falls to Lowell:
20 mile float trip - no permit required.

Hazards:   Strainers, abberant water levels, Long, COLD swims in continuous whitewater,
FIRE, poison ivy - rattlesnakes - yellowjackets, (its your typical Northern Idaho adventure, you got it all.)

About the River:
The rapids of the Selway River vary considerably according to flows,
There are about 10 named rapids between the put-in and Moose Creek. 
The nine mile section of nearly continuous rapids below the Moose Creek confluence earns the river its reputation as one of the best whitewater runs in the United States.

Mile Guide to the Selway RiverRapids of the Selway

The 47-mile Selway River begins near Paradise Guard Station, travels North into the rugged Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area then moves through isolated wilderness and returns to converge wit the Lochsa River near Lowell, Idaho.

Launch near Paradise Guard Station, Idaho, where the river is narrow (approx. 30' wide).

Goat Creek Rapid (class 3+) technical and long class 3 +
    (winds through several bends in river for < 1/2 mile)

Pettibone Rapid

Bear Creek - (mile 16)

Ham Rapid  (class 4) at big water - run on right, big laterals and big holes

Moose River Camp - Selway confluence with Moose River

Moose Creek Rapid - the river doubles and gradient increases

the five miles following Moose River are more challenging whitewater
    Rapids:     Double Drop, Wa Poots, Ladle, Little Niagra, Puzzle Creek and No Slouch.
Double Drop
- right side run - pulling left to avoid a big hole at the bottom.
Ladle Rapid - corner, river widens, boulder garden
        - enter center, zig right, avoid wrap rocks, zig left.  steep class 3 drops, in quick succession
Ladle Rapid Center Ladle Rapid topLadle Rapid -bottom

    Little Niagra - large rock middle of river, drops on either side, left side keeper hole, right side better option
    Second Helping
    Puzzle Creek - right of center, holes on either side

(look for a possible camp at Cedar Flats)
    Osprey Rapid    

    No Slouch - a river-wide hole - sneak on left, hold your hat
    Wolf Creek rapid - (scout) right side channel along a rock wall with water pushing against boulder at bottom right.
The river drops down a narrow chute directly into a wrap rock - turns 45 degrees left, then drops over a ledge with a large pourover hole on the right.

Many beautiful camps below Wolf Creek Rapid and before takeout.

Camp at Cupboard Creek - beautiful sandy beach with plenty of tent sites

Take-out:  Meadow Creek

Selway Falls - below the takeout - best to scout this one!

Native Populations:
black bear, elk, moose, mule deer, whitetail deer, cougar, bobcat, beaver, osprey, otter, mink, bald eagle, wild turkey, heron and dipper.
The Coeur d' Alene Salamander is found ONLY along the Selway River and Meadow Creek of the Nez Perce National Forest.

The Selway River is home to native chinook salmon and steelhead.
These native fish use the Selway as spawning and rearing grounds.
Trout: rainbow, cutthroat, bull trout, dolly varden and eastern brook trout.
Effective Flies:  Caddis, Grasshoppers
Fishing Rules: Catch and Molest only, Single barbless hooks, all fish go back in the river.

Native People:
historical records indicate that people have inhabited Northern Idaho for over 10,000 years, and that the Selway River regions were heavily used during prehistoric and recent historic times.

The Nez Perce people who made the Selway home, related to the Plains cultures of the east and the Sahaptin cultures of the west. The Nez Perce were known as some of the best horse handlers, and today the Nez Perce are members of the four "treaty tribes" of the Columbia River. The Nez Perce are members of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, who is dedicated to the protection of treaty fishing rights and the protection of fish habitat.

See the book, Salmon and his people.  By Dan Landeen and Allen Pinkham

Selway River Logistics and Transportation
Selway river trips start near Salmon, Idaho and end near Lowell, Idaho
Shuttle is from Salmon to Lowell (roughly) and takes roughly six to seven hours (275 miles).

Shuttle Logisitics: US 12 and US 93 - skirting the North and East edge of Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.

Western Whitewater (by Fryar Calhoun and Jim Cassady) offers a mile guide to the river.
Salmon, Idaho - near put-in

Potential meeting place:
The Stagecoach Inn (208-756-4251) in Salmon is a decent choice for rendevous location.
Lowell, Idaho - near takeout, offers the commercial center of the Selway region

Lowell has groceries, phone, lodging, gas, camping gear, outfitter services and fish and game licenses.
Drive Times:
Boise to Stanley = 3 hours
Stanley to Salmon = 3 hours
Salmon to Missoula = 3 hours
Salmon to Yellowstone = 5 hours
McCall to Boise = 2 hours

Flight Options:  
(about $100/person)
McCall Wilderness Aviation
800-992-6559 or 208-634-7137

Flights can be made from airports in:
Kamiah, Salmon or Boise
Guides and References:
  • USFS, Floating the Wild Selway. Water-resistant map-guide. Order from West Fork RD.
  • Moore & McClaran, Idaho Whitewater.
  • Amaral, Idaho: The Whitewater State.
  • Garren, Idaho River Tours.

  • Maps:
  • USGS 7.5': Burnt Strip Mtn, Spot Mtn, Gardiner Peak, Dog Creek, Moose Ridge, Mink Peak, Fog Mtn, Selway Falls.
  • USGS 1:100: Nez Perce Pass, Hamilton, Kooskia.
  • USFS: Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.
    Covers entire run. Order from West Fork RD.
  • USFS: Bitterroot NF and Nez Perce NF.

  • Regional Selway-Bitterroot Region and Selway River-related links:

    Idaho Conservation League

    Living Rivers

    Tarkio Kayak Adventures


    USFS info on the Bitterroot National Forest

    Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness info from Recreation.gov

    Wilderness Forever.org

    adventure technology snapdragondesign.com
    rescue 3 international

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    Last Modified: 11/2005